Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 24, 2018

Creative Edge to add 10 jobs

Low-interest loan could allow firm to almost double in size
By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Mar 14, 2018
Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN/Ledger photo President of Creative Edge Master Shop Jim Belilove shows the tool kits his company has been building lately. The firm’s Tool Keepers division has grown in recent years and will grow even more now that Creative Edge has secured a $110,000 low-interest loan. The business has 35 employees and will add at least 10 more, and Belilove said it could add 10-20 more on top of that just in the next year.

Creative Edge Master Shop in Fairfield announced it will add at least 10 new jobs thanks to a low-interest loan it received.

The business received a $110,000 loan from the Regional Economic Development Incorporated Revolving Loan Fund to assist in expanding its operations. The loan allows Creative Edge to purchase waterjet cutting machines and to upgrade existing equipment. The planned expansion has created 10 new advanced manufacturing jobs in the firm’s Tool Keepers division, which manufactures industrial foam tool kits.

President of Creative Edge Jim Belilove said he thinks the loan will allow the business to add 10-20 more jobs down the road in addition to the 10 it’s adding now.

“We think we’re going to grow quite a lot this next year,” Belilove said. “We’ve been at about 35 employees for the last five years, so this is significant growth. The wind is in our sails like it hasn’t been for quite awhile.”

Belilove worked with Fairfield Economic Development Association to apply for the loan, which is administered by the Area 15 Regional Planning Commission.

“The REDI Revolving Loan Fund has been an important ally in the expansion of Creative Edge and has made possible several expansions over the years,” Belilove said. “This project will add high-tech equipment and productive capacity to fuel the growth in the Tool Keepers Division.”

FEDA executive director Joshua Laraby said the expansion of operations and the 10 new advanced manufacturing jobs is exciting news for Creative Edge and Fairfield.

“Creative Edge has been a foundational employer in the community and they understand innovation is important. This is why they are seeing this growth,” he said.

Chris Bowers, executive director for Area 15 Regional Planning Commission, said Creative Edge and FEDA have a long history of working together to create and retain jobs.

“This is our fifth business loan since 2002 with Creative Edge,” Bowers said. “We have watched Jim’s business grow and succeed, and I’m excited about the new opportunities this expansion project will create in Fairfield and the surrounding region. This is a good example of the importance of our partnerships in economic development to help keep and expand jobs in southeast Iowa.”

Belilove founded Creative Edge in 1988, using a high-pressured stream of water to cut through the toughest materials such as metal and stone. At the time, Belilove said he had only “two prototype machines that barely worked.” Now he has 14 machines.

The firm’s Tool Keepers division has seen an uptick in demand. The division makes toolkits, including a foam board with spaces cut out to hold tools in place.

“We sell them to big aerospace companies, the U.S. military and people who serve the military,” Belilove said.

A man from the Rock Island Arsenal asked Belilove about supplying toolkits to the military.

“He brought in an old-fashioned toolkit, a plywood box with a wooden-handle and full of tools,” Belilove said. “‘He told me, ‘This is what I’m sending to the troops in Kuwait, and I’m really ashamed to be sending it this way because they can’t tell what tools they have.’”

The man brought a sheet of foam to Belilove and asked him if he could cut tool shapes into the foam.

Belilove did exactly that, and has been manufacturing toolkits for 20 years.

In addition to its Tool Keepers Division, the business has a hard surfaces flooring and soft surfaces flooring division that also use its waterjet technology.

Jefferson County businesses interested in more information on the R.E.D.I Revolving Loan Fund and opportunities to finance projects should contact Laraby at 472-3436 or at joshua.laraby@growfairfield.com.





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